8 Shocking Ways America Leads the World
The New American Exceptionalism: Number one in obesity, guns, prisoners, anxiety, and more…
July 29, 2013 |

People uninterested in change and progress tend to cling to the jingoistic fantasy that America is an exceptional country. Often this implies that the U.S. is somehow superior to other nations. Some, like the neocons, have taken the idea of exceptionalism to mean that America should be above the law and that other countries should be remade in our image. Others, like conservative evangelicals, believe that America’s supposed exceptionalism is God’s will.

In recent decades, America has indeed pulled ahead of the global pack in a number of areas. But they aren’t necessarily things to go waving the flag over. If we can’t address the following trends, we’ll end up snuffing out the things that truly have made the country great, like opportunities for mobility and a decent social safety net.

1. Most expensive place to have a baby. In the U.S., having a baby is going to cost you, big-time, before you even get that bundle of joy home. The New York Times reports that on average, a hospital delivery costs $9,775 — and make that $15,041 if you’re having a Cesarean. No other first-world country on earth expects new parents to shell out that kind of money just for the privilege of procreating.

You might think insurance would help. You’d be wrong. A staggering 62 percent of private plans come with zilch in the way of maternity coverage. Mothers-to-be are dragged through what the Times calls “an extended shopping trip though the American healthcare bazaar” where they try to figure out the cost of things like ultrasounds and blood tests. Pricing is often opaque and widely variable, and it’s common for mothers to receive treatments they don’t necessarily need. Even when insurance does cover maternity care, between the deductibles and co-insurance fees, women can expect to shell out thousands in out-of-pocket expenses: an average of $3,400.

Do American mothers get some kind of unusual care for all that dough? Nope. They receive the same services moms receive in other first-world countries; they just pay for them individually and at higher rates.

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